Tag Archives: God’s will

Free Will and Punishment

No, not a sequel to Dostoyevsky’s classic, just a simple conclusion:

God-given Free Will and Inherited Sin are mutually exclusive concepts.

(Inherited Sin naturally refers to Original Sin in the Bible, but applies to any type of company punishment.)

The conclusion can be drawn from the postulate that any concept of free will entails voluntary choices made by a person, and consequently from all religious texts granting free will to man.

Certainly, so much is true for followers of the Bible, and Genesis chapter 2 and Deuteronomy chapter 30 are used by believers to strengthen the concept.

Here, Dawkins expounds on the vengeful nature of Yahwe, and questions why God’s son had to be the ransom paid for the inherited sin of everyone born from the tainted bloodline of Adam. (Everyone who has ever lived, according to the Bible.)

The purpose of this article is to make obsolete the need for character descriptions of Yahwe and the topic of substitutionary atonement, so that the discussion can move on. It is simply this:

“If God gave individuals free will and expected them to behave, individuals could act in a way God liked, and he could choose to reward those, or in a way he didn’t, and he could choose to punish those. If he didn’t, individuals are not responsible for their actions and God could choose to reward or punish at whim. If he did, he couldn’t punish descendants of Adam for the sins of Adam.

In other words: if we’re to be punished for the actions of others, he didn’t give us free will, and if he did, we’re not to be punished for the actions of others. Therefore, God-given Free Will and Inherited Sin are incompatible concepts.

Remains the permutation that God could reward or punish the righteous and sinful at whim, in other words the ‘God works in mysterious ways’ or ‘it is not for us to know’ card. Playing this card only stresses the incompatibility. Even He could then no longer claim to have given free will to me and you, and he could not be credited for it.”

The incompatibility lies in the concept itself, so that there is no escape; if the choice isn’t made by you, you don’t have free will.

Note that this article only addresses the Bible’s own internally incompatible definitions. The religious definition is based on an opposition of the will of the individual to the will of the deity or deities, instead of incompatibility with determinism or other concepts in Philosophy.

Therefore, do not take this article to endorse specific religious concepts of free will for philosophical discourse.